Manganese: Sources, Health Benefits, Supplements and Deficiency

Food Sources of manganese

Manganese is a trace mineral. It is vital for the human body, but people only need it in small amounts. It contributes to many bodily functions, including the metabolism of amino acids, cholesterol, glucose, and carbohydrates. It also plays a role in bone formation, blood clotting, and reducing inflammation.

The human body cannot produce manganese, but it can store it in the liver, pancreas, bones, kidneys, and brain. A person usually obtains manganese from their diet.

Food Sources

Manganese is found in various foods, both plant-based and animal-based. Here are some common food sources of manganese:

It’s important to note that the manganese content can vary depending on factors such as soil conditions, farming practices, and processing methods.

Additionally, the recommended daily intake of manganese for adults is around 2.3 mg for men and 1.8 mg for women.

Health Benefits

Manganese plays an essential role in several physiological processes in the body, and adequate intake of manganese is important for overall health. Here are some potential health benefits associated with manganese:

1. Antioxidant Activity

Manganese is a component of antioxidant enzymes, such as superoxide dismutase (SOD). These enzymes help protect cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals, potentially reducing the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and certain cancers.

2. Bone Health

Manganese is involved in the formation and maintenance of healthy bones. It plays a role in the synthesis of connective tissue and helps activate enzymes necessary for bone mineralization. Adequate manganese intake may contribute to bone health and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

3. Metabolism and Energy Production

Manganese is a cofactor for various enzymes involved in carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism. It helps convert nutrients into energy and is necessary for the synthesis of important compounds like cholesterol and fatty acids.

4. Brain Function

Manganese is involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and norepinephrine, which play important roles in mood regulation and cognitive function. Some research suggests that manganese may have a positive impact on brain health, although more studies are needed to establish a direct link.

5. Wound Healing

Manganese is involved in the synthesis of collagen, a protein essential for wound healing and maintaining the integrity of skin and other connective tissues.

6. Blood Sugar Regulation

Manganese is involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates and may help regulate blood sugar levels. However, further research is needed to better understand its exact role in glucose metabolism and its potential impact on conditions like diabetes.

It’s worth noting that while manganese is important for health, excessive intake can be harmful. It’s generally best to obtain manganese through a balanced diet rather than through supplements, unless specifically recommended by a healthcare professional.


While it’s generally recommended to obtain nutrients through a balanced diet, including food sources rich in manganese, in some cases, supplements may be considered. However, it’s important to approach dietary supplements with caution and consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplementation regimen. Here are a few points to consider regarding manganese supplements:

  • Dietary Assessment: Before considering manganese supplements, it’s beneficial to assess your dietary intake of manganese. If you’re consistently not meeting the recommended daily intake through your diet, supplementation might be an option.
  • Medical Advice: It’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or registered dietitian, before starting any new dietary supplements, including manganese. They can evaluate your specific nutritional needs, consider potential interactions with medications, and provide guidance tailored to your individual circumstances.
  • Dosage and Safety: The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for manganese is around 2.3 mg for adult men and 1.8 mg for adult women. Excessive manganese intake can lead to toxicity and adverse effects. Therefore, it’s important to follow the recommended dosage provided by healthcare professionals or the instructions on the supplement packaging.
  • Quality and Reliability: When choosing a manganese supplement, it’s essential to select a reputable brand or manufacturer to ensure the product’s quality, safety, and accurate labeling. Look for third-party certifications, such as the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) or NSF International, which indicate that the supplement has undergone testing for quality and purity.
  • Balance and Complementarity: Manganese is just one of many essential nutrients required by the body. It’s generally advisable to focus on a balanced and varied diet that provides a wide range of nutrients. Rather than relying solely on supplements, incorporating manganese-rich foods into your diet can help ensure you also benefit from other important nutrients and dietary components.

Remember, self-diagnosis and self-prescription of supplements are not recommended. Consulting with a healthcare professional is vital to determine if manganese supplementation is necessary, appropriate, and safe for you.

Typical forms available include:

Manganese supplements are available in various forms, including:

  • Manganese Gluconate
  • Manganese Sulfate
  • Manganese Chelates
  • Manganese Oxide
  • Manganese Ascorbate

The choice of manganese supplement form may depend on factors such as availability, specific product formulations, and individual preferences. Remember to consult with a healthcare professional for guidance on the appropriate form and dosage of manganese supplement suitable for your specific needs.

Side Effects

When taken within the recommended dosage range, manganese supplements are generally considered safe for most individuals. However, excessive intake of manganese can lead to toxicity and adverse effects. Here are some potential side effects associated with high levels of manganese:

  • Neurological Effects: Long-term exposure to high levels of manganese can cause neurological symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease, known as manganism. Symptoms may include tremors, muscle rigidity, difficulty with coordination and balance, and changes in mood and behavior.
  • Respiratory Effects: Inhalation of manganese dust or fumes, particularly in occupational settings such as mining or welding, can lead to respiratory issues. Prolonged exposure can cause respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
  • Gastrointestinal Disturbances: Ingesting very high doses of manganese supplements can cause gastrointestinal upset, including abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Interactions with Medications: Manganese supplements may interact with certain medications, such as antipsychotics, laxatives, and certain antibiotics. These interactions can affect the absorption, metabolism, or effectiveness of both the medication and manganese. It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional to avoid potential drug interactions.
  • Impaired Iron Absorption: Excessive intake of manganese can interfere with the absorption of iron. This is particularly relevant for individuals with iron-deficiency anemia or those who rely on iron supplementation.

It’s important to note that these side effects are primarily associated with high intake levels, either through excessive supplement use or occupational exposure to manganese. Most people can meet their manganese needs through a balanced diet without the need for supplements.

If you are considering taking manganese supplements, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate dosage and to monitor for any potential side effects or interactions with medications you may be taking.


Manganese deficiency is rare in healthy individuals, as the body requires only small amounts of this trace mineral. However, certain factors can contribute to manganese deficiency. These include:

  • Inadequate Dietary Intake: A diet lacking in foods that are good sources of manganese, such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, and leafy green vegetables, can result in manganese deficiency over time.
  • Malabsorption Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, or other gastrointestinal disorders, can impair the absorption of manganese and other nutrients, potentially leading to deficiency.
  • Parenteral Nutrition: In cases where individuals receive nutrition through intravenous feeding (parenteral nutrition) for an extended period, the absence of manganese in the intravenous solutions can lead to deficiency.
  • Chronic Liver Disease: Liver plays a role in the regulation of manganese levels in the body. Chronic liver disease can disrupt this regulation and result in manganese deficiency.

Symptoms of manganese deficiency may include:

  • Impaired Growth and Development
  • Altered Carbohydrate and Lipid Metabolism
  • Reproductive Issues
  • Bone and Joint Problems
  • Neurological Symptoms

It’s important to note that manganese deficiency is rare and often occurs in combination with other nutrient deficiencies. If you suspect a manganese deficiency, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and guidance on appropriate treatment options, which may include dietary changes or manganese supplementation.

Potential Risks

While manganese is an essential trace mineral required for normal physiological functioning, excessive intake or exposure to high levels of manganese can pose certain risks. Here are some potential risks associated with excessive manganese:

  • Neurological Effects
  • Respiratory Issues
  • Hepatic Effects
  • Impaired Cognitive Function
  • Interference with Iron Absorption
  • Metal Interactions

It’s important to note that these risks primarily apply to individuals who are exposed to high levels of manganese in occupational or environmental settings or those who consume excessive amounts of manganese through supplements without medical supervision. Most individuals can meet their manganese needs through a balanced diet without the need for supplementation.

If you have concerns about manganese exposure or potential risks, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or occupational health specialist for guidance and appropriate risk management strategies.


Overall, manganese is an essential trace mineral that plays important roles in various physiological processes in the body. It is necessary for normal growth, development, and metabolism. Adequate intake of manganese through a balanced diet is generally sufficient to meet the body’s needs.

It’s important to maintain a balance in manganese intake and not exceed the recommended daily allowance (RDA). Getting manganese from a varied diet that includes manganese-rich foods is generally preferred over relying on supplements.

As with any nutrient, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalized advice regarding manganese intake, particularly if you have specific health concerns or conditions. They can provide guidance based on your individual needs and help ensure a balanced and appropriate nutrient intake.

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